Don Braden: The Fire Within

Since he blew up back in ’84 with the Harper Brothers Quintet, great things have been expected of tenor saxophonist Don Braden. Further stints with Wynton and Betty (Look What I Got) made him a perennial TDWR. In ’97, Braden fulfilled all prophecies with the heady Shorter-Mobley-Coltrane-Grover Washington, Jr. frisson of The Voice of the Saxophone (RCA Victor).

Two years later, Braden drops his first masterpiece, The Fire Within. The title tune’s mercurial sax-piano-bass-drums slo-burn is also the album’s vibe signifier. In lesser hands, this dicey concept (pairing up free-association titles like “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes”, “Fried Bananas” “The Boiling Point”) would no doubt suck…after Braden and his eight trio/quartet-rotating cut creators (Darrell Grant, Dwayne Burno, Cecil Brooks III, Jeff “Tain” Watts in the house!) get sick wid’ it, The Fire Within gets stone metaphysical. It’s Don Braden’s time, yo’.